The present study practices ‘surface reading’ or ‘responsible reading’ in the analysis of recent fiction by authors of South Asian North American heritage. While the latter half of the 20th century has seen an upsurge in theories and critique that applied a symptomatic reading approach in an attempt to uncover that which is hidden in or repressed by the text, the more recent idea of post-critique returned its focus to what is present in the text. In practice this means a more descriptive approach that focuses on modes of narration, tropes, and language and most importantly, how all of these affect the reader. However, foregrounding reading experience over discourses of identity, ideology, or ethnicity, as well as gender and class struggles, does not mean the texts are any less political, nor is the analysis merely focused on the aesthetic. Surface reading remains deeply informed by the theories that had dominated the past decades in the fields of literary and cultural studies. But, as the social environment changed from the last decades of modernity that were marked by social movements and minority rights discourses, to a general awareness of the impacts of globalization and the precariousness of the individual in the globalized world, our analytical tools also shifted their focus and approach. The literature coming out of a social struggling for recognition would invite a representative reading and engagement with questions of ideology and hegemony. In contrast, as the present analysis of texts by South Asian North American writers shows, more recent literary productions largely dismiss or foreclose such an interpretative approach. These texts are often intimate stories of very particular situations of specific individuals. My thesis first offers a general introduction on this shift in reading practice and on responsible reading. This is followed by some socio-cultural background on globalization and diaspora, as diasporas are not only a frequent frame within which fiction by authors of ethnic heritage are considered, but moreover, critics like Robin Cohen see diasporas as having a particular affinity with globalization, which would make them particularly adept to benefit in the changing social environment. This argument, however, is based on a misconceived underlying logic of diasporas. Despite their transcultural nature, diasporas actually more closely resemble the rigidity of the nation state in their adherence to the idea of collective identities than the fluidity of decentralized global interdependence. As an introduction to the particular case study, chapter four will offer a brief overview of the history of South Asian migration and South Asian North American ethnic literature. By including these glimpses into ethnic literature, the significant differences not only in reading practice, but also as a shift in the more recent literary production becomes apparent. Accordingly, the analysis of the individual novels and short story collections that comprise my case study are structured in terms of their degree of difference. The initial genre analysis of historiographic fiction and the Bildungsroman features examples of texts with a significant ethnicity component in setting and theme, yet each in their way is highly critical of collective identity constructions. This if followed, in chapter six, by two texts set in an environment of global mobility. Jhumpa Lahiri’s short story cycle “Hema and Kaushik” emphasizes isolation and precarity, in the reporting narrative style and use of photography, as well as a focus on death. In contrast, Abha Dawesar’s That Summer in Paris focuses on sensuality, drawing the reader into a text full of taboo transgressions by enchanting them with descriptions of sensual experiences from the arts, music, and food to sexual encounters. Chapter seven then takes a closer look at the smallest social unit, the role of the family, and the depictions of changing family constellations as well as a less nostalgically idealized notion of family in recent texts. Saleema Nawaz’ short story collection Mother Superior depicts a wide variety of intimate relationships, from traditional families to the cohabitation of peers. Each of her stories grapples with the human need to give care and be cared for, and the ultimate limitations or failure of caring. Abha Dawesar’s novel Family Values, juxtaposes the small unit of the family with the larger unit of the nation. Set in the slums of New Delhi, the novel depicts the abject that the small family unit of the protagonist is faced with on a daily basis, from actual illness and horrifying living conditions, to the more symbolical abject of a lack of ethics and values among the larger family, and uses that as a template for the larger ills of society in terms of all pervasive corruption and crime. The final chapter takes the study full circle with a reading of Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist, which combines a traditional, stereotypical immigrant narrative in the embedded storyline, with an ironic, critical reinterpretation of that perception. The frame narrative depicts a dialogue between an American and Changez, a suspected Pakistani terrorist, in the bazaar in Lahore. The underlying theme of this frame narrative is the danger inherent to dialogue, in particular if the conversational partners base their actions on preconceived notions of the other and of understanding the other’s motivations and goals. The text, through its form of second person address, implies the reader in the ironic commentary given by the narrator, Changez, while the American, like the reader, is not given a voice. My responsible reading of these diverse texts emphasizes not only that these texts would share very little if grouped under a common header like Ethnic Literature, but moreover, that a reading practice focused on the particularities of the individual text and on reading experience does not limit an analysis to merely descriptive results. What emerges from such a reading may be less tangible than results from a symptomatic reading but offers valuable glimpses into the Zeitgeist and prevailing mood in all of its varieties. In the case of the texts analyzed in the present study, what emerges is a general awareness of the manifestations of globalization in the social fabric, in particular, the precariousness of the individual in a globalized world paired with an awareness of shifts of power, but also a celebration of cosmopolitan mobility that offers transgressions of social boundaries.